Burning beside us in a red boom
the city looked all ready for the rest of our lives.
Wafting graduates in white dresses, going to a wedding,
which I suppose you were, walking around that quadrangle
in twos, in front of the photo shoots.
I’m assuming, I don’t know, holed up now in a condo
full of mewing bathrugs and double bedspreads,
rewarding your results after a year or two, a fellow grad
in Law perhaps, sharing your sink and skillets
and a life of glorious avenues. .
So we got our certs severally, and outside in the body odour
of new beginnings, she stood there throbbing
with her share of the bonfire
and blood lust of the photo ops,
the bodies that flashed in and out of existence,
as I foresaw my bedsit-worth of happy families – a dream
where I’ve not moved from the Quad
(but this is true) and untrue, where I’m let at the life
I last saw in a can-can of mortarboards flung-up
into tomorrow and happiness.
In birthday suits
here, on beachside Scarborough
the couples knot themselves
around each other
You, shooting like a flower
where I flare
like a fellow stalk.
Now caught in my net
in the sheets,
a speck – your nipple,
sheds sand and damp patches
in the sack,
or here, on the Cliff Road
Scarborough, scattering laughter
in the sand. I watch the water
seep from your sea-green eyes.
Cow and Calf
Kissing goodbye to Han Shan*
and his All I smell is humans
becoming ghosts, you push
that fat thumb through space
only meant for a finger.
The baby battening your balloon down,
smattering you with taproots,
bringing you down-to-earth
with the blinkering
bilge-tank of responsibility.
Now: busy lizzies, forget-me-nots, the garden is full,
tea tree stems salve small cuts
while bellies brim with basil and sage,
the very floors stir
strewn with fennel and bay,
and you have a life
leafing into chores: a life like a rose-root
grateful for clay, and rain, and walls.
*Han Shan was a 9th Century Chinese poet, who, from his hermit’s habitat, composed hundreds of poems of such beauty and insight he was deemed by some a Bodhisattva in his own lifetime – that is, one who has attained to Buddhahood. I allude to him in my poem solely to make his celibate, austere life, contrast with the life of generativity to which my friend Martina has entered.
© Kevin Cahill
Kevin Cahill was born in Cork City, Ireland in 1975. He graduated from University College, Cork, and worked for the European Commission. He has been writing poetry for many years and his work has appeared in Berkeley Poetry Review, Poetry Ireland Review, The London Magazine, and The Edinburgh Review. He has completed his first book of poems and is now seeking a publisher.